Jonathan Freedland is right to compare the lack of response to the institutionalised criminality of the bankers with the punitive sentences handed out after last August's riots (Comment, 30 June). However, the comparison is even more stark looking at punishment in general. The behaviour of the poor continues to be relentlessly punished with prisons warehousing the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally ill, the sexually abused and socially excluded. According to the Prison Reform Trust, in 2010, in Northern Ireland, over half the women imprisoned were there for fine default, while in 2009, 1,394 people were imprisoned for failing to pay fines.

© Guardian News & Media Ltd

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